Millennial Travel Podcast

Vagabonding: The Art of Long-Term Travel with Rolf Potts

Matt Wilson
January 16, 2024

Rolf Potts is a legendary travel writer, who’s book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel has been a classic piece of travel writing for many years.  Rolf’s writing has appeared in National Geographic, The Guardian, Outside, The New Yorker, and Sports Illustrated.  Potts has been part of creative writing workshops and/or taught classes at places like Paris American University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

In addition to travel writing and his Vagabonding success, Rolf Potts’ adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, traversing Israel on foot, bicycling across Burma, driving a Land Rover across South America, and traveling around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind.

Potts is also the author of Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer and the new edition of Vagabonding includes a foreword from Tim Ferriss.  Most recently Rolf has launched his own podcast called “Deviate”.

Rolf leaves the listeners with some final advice encouraging them to travel and reminding them that its not as difficult or as dangerous as they might think.  For more on this topic check out our Guide to Solo Travel.

In this episode of The Millennial Travel Podcast Rolf Potts and I discuss: 

What does it mean to be “time rich” versus most people travel in such a hurry? 

  • Rolf Potts explains how he taught English in Korea

What does Rolf Potts think about the digital nomad movement?

Why do people want to go back in time for nostalgic reasons when they travel? 

A quick story of when Rolf Potts got lost getting off the beaten path.

How people can cut the cord on their smartphone while traveling.

How can people truly disconnect, so they don’t get burned out? 

How to make your “vacation your vocation”.

What can we learn from the “slow food movement” or “slow travel movement”? 

How can people afford to travel more often and travel for longer?

  • Travel to cheaper places
  • He lives in Kansas because of the low cost of living, so he can afford to travel more often
  • Rolf does a lot of local activities and knows how to be a tourist in his own town.

What is Rolf Potts’ life like in Kansas and what does he appreciate about it? 

Rolf is from Kansas and learned to appreciate what he has at home.

How does an old school traveler like Rolf Potts feel about Instagram culture in travel?

The Millennial Travel Podcast Rapid Fire Questions I ask Rolf Potts: 

If he could go to one bar tomorrow what would it be? 

  • McGlinchey’s in Philadelphia or a Korean soju tent

If Rolf could take six months to travel anywhere where would he go? 

What is Rolf Potts’ favorite US National Park? 

  • Olympic National Park in Washington

Rolf Potts’ favorite piece of travel gear? 

  • You don’t need any luggage to have a good time, so he said good shoes or a smartphone. 

Resources from Rolf Potts: 

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or Spotify.

You can find all the links and past show notes on

Direct support for The Millennial Travel Podcast comes from The Millennial Travel Guidebook: Escape More, Spend Less, & Make Travel a Priority in Your Life... and from our new USA hiking and camping trips at Under30Experiences!

Auto generated transcript of Matt Wilson of the Millennial Travel Podcast interviewing Ralph Potts

00:00:00 You are now listening to the millennial travel podcast with Matt Wilson, another episode of the millennial travel podcast. Today, we're here with a legend Ralph Potts. If you don't know who Ralph is yet, you are about to learn. But I really do mean that he has achieved legendary status by Paving the way for so many people to achieve long-term travel. But before I go on with that, I do need to let you know that under30experiences our group travel Community for young people ages, 21 to 35 is kicking off our Black Friday sale earlier with the launch of our Mexico. Trips were launching two new trips to Mexico and we predict

00:01:00 People are going to be traveling a little bit more close to home in 2021. So we have a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula to a place called meted out, but you guys are really going to love as well as a separate trip to Mexico City. I went to Mexico City about a year ago now and absolutely loved it. I ate and drank inside history and Mexican wrestling matches and just had an absolute blast in that City. So a lot to be learned about the amazing country that is just to the south of the United States. So if you want to check that out and get $200 off your trip. These trips are running next spring and summer 2021. Check out and go

00:02:00 Set for raw spots.

00:02:03 Hello everyone and welcome. I'm your host, Matt Wilson. And today we are here with other in Kansas of all places which I'm excited to talk to him about that. He has had his work appear in places like National Geographic, traveler recently taught non-fiction writing at Yale University and also has another book that people might not know about and uncommon Guide to the art of long-term World Travel but also Marco. Polo didn't go their stories and Revelations from one decade as a post-modern travel writer and you have a really nice podcast called DV8 that I was able to dive into a little bit. And without further Ado, Roth,

00:03:01 Nice to talk to you, Matt. And, you know, it's, it's interesting that the people who grew up in this digital Nomad typo error. I guess when it was possible to people, like yourself, you in particular as like the OG, this, this legendary figure and then I was reading, I was like, wait, I think Ralph is still in his forties? I'm 34. It was like, you were like, some mystical creature that I expected to be running around, like 1 at like when I interviewed Arthur frommer, who was almost a second, this guy was doing this like 20 years ago, and before all the internet and all this crazy stuff and here he is.

00:04:00 Yeah. Sometimes you know what's funny? I wrote vagabonding before there was such a concept is digital Nomad as I mean, I think people have been doing either Asians of it for a while, but basically social media and services, like Skype made it possible in ways that I couldn't even predicted in my book because those Technologies didn't exist when I wrote it. But it's funny that philosophically my book just sort of dovetail really nicely with what people picked up for the digital, Nomad movement and so, yeah, you know, 20 years ago, I was in my twenties and I'm pushing fifty now, it sounds ridiculous, but yeah, it is funny how I was recently talking to somebody who discovered my book in 2014 in that book was 11 years old in 2014. So it's been a part of a conversation that I've been a part of for a long time and I was enjoy talking about it because you know I wrote that book for a reason and it's has a lot of things that are really close to my heart and goes the way I live. So

00:05:00 it seems like the main difference that back in the day, you were like that, but

00:05:10 When you took off for long-term travel didn't have a job. They took a Hiatus or but now, which is both a gift and a curse. So, I would love to first of all to ask you, did you have a job the day when you just took off because you are again, the book is the art of long-term World Travel. So I would love to for you, to elaborate on the difference between a sudden you were, you were time rich as I believe you might have coined the term and you weren't right. I got to get to the next coffee, shop, or stressed out about the internet. Cafe about that.

00:06:03 Well, I funded my first big Asia Travels by working as an English teacher in Korea, what? Which is interesting. And it's something I recommend to anyone who thinks they might be good as a teacher because not only did it earn me money for travel, but it, it gave me the experience of working in another culture specifically Korea, which is very industrialized, very hard-working culture, but it's culturally different, you know, it's a place that is individualism is sort of a pejorative word there, for example. And so, it was really interesting to get to know that country. Now, I did what I, in the book, I call an anti sabbatical. Basically, I saved a lot of money for travel quit, my teaching job and meant to just travel for as long as I could on the money. At the time, I was transitioning to travel writing work and saw like a lot of those by lines that I got came out of that experience. So I never was fully unemployed, but there's a time. When the money I was making it from travel riding with so little at this time, but it was good that I had this Nest Egg of money that was left over from travel. And I

00:07:02 I encouraged people not to overthink, it could be because even if you don't have a career that you can take on the road, if you can just save enough money, you know, just have have this nest-egg, their do probably has to be a travel version of nest. Egg, is not really an ass, but your travel egg then you don't have to worry about work. Other people have found through the digital Nomad mode moment movement, that they can combine work with travel. In a way. That is really pretty sustainable. Floyd guy for 10 years, traveling around and wrote a book and made it big. But it's good to know and we can get it to inspiration for writing and pain stuff like that. Well, but let you know what you really think about this digital Nomad moment movement and do you have any aversion to it when then

00:08:02 Maybe you visited a place like Chiang Mai Thailand recently and hopped into a coffee shop and everybody's got their laptop open. You're like, oh, I could have just gone to the Lower East Side in New York or I don't know, something in the middle of the country, somewhere near the Power and Light District in Kansas City, right? And seen the same kind of seen any aversion to that effect like oh God, what did I, what did I start? I think that sometimes there's sort of a performative aspect additional nomadism, that can be a little bit irritating, sometimes I don't want to be doing their best your buddies, trying nothing. But they're sort of the Instagram version of digital Nomad is. And when you're sitting there it's some beautiful Vista with the laptop on your lap and I'm thinking that's not where you do your work, is it, you know that there's there's I think that there can be a compulsion for people to perform a Rosier version of this lifestyle than they actually live. And

00:09:02 And sometimes I think the Ragged edges of travel are what make it interesting. Can be the days where things aren't. Don't go the greatest. It mean, you're not on a beautiful beach or you're not on the lake. Overlooking, the mountain. When actually your, your your best, your most instructive travel days can happen as for the cafe. Full of people who may as well be in Brooklyn. I think that's a little bit. I think that there are certain places in before they were digital Nomads Travelers tended to Cluster together. And so if, if if one is irritated by a bunch of people who look like they could be in Williamsburg working cheek-by-jowl in a coffeeshop in Chiang Mai, well, then just go to go to pie or Chiang Rai or go to the house or someplace good a place where it's not as irritating. I know that there's places Vale is a big place these days for digital Nomads, just countries, that actually gives special digital Nomad visas, and that's all great. But again, I'm the ethic that I outline in Vacaville.

00:10:02 An ethic of openness and curiosity and it's not necessarily about taking your job on the road and, and, and being a big shot. But it's about learning every day and making everyday a special and different. And if you can integrate that it'll Nomad way with work, then that's great. But I try to encourage people, not to not to worry too much about the air quotes lifestyle of digital, know Madison and be open to making mistakes. Be open to trying new things and being open to the best parts of travel, which are not always as smooth as things are really good to be a really great cancer and you touched on something there where you kind of send a go a little bit more often. If you're trying not to be Instagram models in and do you have a sense of longing?

00:11:02 Nostalgia for the old days, this conversation of having a conversation of what was Aja. Like when it was really Asia or you went to China in the seventies when he graduated from school to see what that was like, because that was real. What's your take on this? Kind of the way people traveled for nostalgic, they want to go back in time. I'd like to hear your take.

00:11:41 Yes. Yes or no. And and this is something that has always been there. I think in Vagabond and I quoted Thomas Merton, he was in Asian, maybe the 50s or 60s people said, have you seen the real Asia and he said, it's all real as far as I can see, you know, that they basically people have always, especially since modernity has gone. Global people think that modernity somehow makes culture has less than authentic when in fact, you know, unless people are being forced to go to fast food restaurants and drink espressos on the street if it's their choice than and they choose to live a more modern lifestyle than that's, that's their thing to do now, I've been traveling, I've been vagabonding for 25 years at least now. And so, there are certain things for example, when the smartphone dictated, how people travel it was a little bit irritated just because people were using their smartphones. I thought way too much there depending on them too much. They weren't really asking people for recommendations that it would be in Poland or El Salvador and not talk to any local people.

00:12:41 How to speak ain't going completely off their phones. Now I don't want to be that the cranky old guy yelling get off my lawn, right? You know that I I want to appreciate travel with the Technologies. The people have grown up with so don't want to just go to be blanket against smartphones but it wasn't that how much harder to travel before. There were smartphones before a smartphone. Matt could show you where to go or before I smartphone Yelp app could tell you where to eat, right? So I just try to encourage people to, to cut what I called. The electronic umbilical cord and just let things happen in discover things on their own. Because in a way, it's the difference between the consumer experience to travel and the more organic find your own way, Pilgrim experience of travel when you're not really sure what's going to happen next. And you're learning an interesting new ways, and you don't always have your phone giving you the best recommendation of the 10, best things to do here and there.

00:13:41 There was more traditional ways that people used to travel and the newer easier, but sort of more sterilized ways of travel that it is possible to do, for example, with Technologies, like smart phones. Now, that that's really cool. And I know when you talk about could you give an example of a time where you just got completely lost her off with who-knows-what cuz it you have to have tons of examples of what year illustrating.

00:14:10 Yeah, sure will one. One of my favorite examples is that I was in the ferry from Spain to Morocco and then I wanted to go to the the town of Cheshire one which is this famous blue City Travelers have been visiting since the hippie era. The problem is that kept showing his a transliteration. When you see it on the page is the transliteration of basic is the French translation of Arabic. And so I didn't know how to pronounce it and so I thought it was Chiefs win and so I told the taxi-driver at Tanger I said I want to go to chefs when and he's your text Juan and I'm like sure it will touch one and shoving her completely different towns. And so instead of it so I was amazed by how cheap it was instead of a 2 and 1/2 hour drive to shovel when it was a one-hour drive to touch one. I wandered around for an hour with the wrong map until I realized that I was not in chefchaouen and then I made the decision to just stay there and it was one of my favorite decisions because basically I had gone to check Sean with all these expectations. I had no expectation.

00:15:10 It all starts at 1. So I was able to see it with completely fresh eyes and I was able to just capitalize on my mistake and every single thing I found there was a discovery and it was bourbon Market Day. The Berber tribes were in the sell their Wares people in in test, 177, are used to Travelers that I used to travel in touch once so a lot of people took an interest in me and away. They went to check shower and it wasn't as fun. More comfortable, from The Backpacker Western backpack perspective, perspective, but it wasn't as much of an adventure as this complete mistake that I made. And so sometimes I think we were hard on ourselves this travel as we mess up in that kind of situation, we feel bad and we try to correct yourself when in fact, why not just see it as a gift. And so in that situation, I was able to enjoy having completely screwed up and gone to the wrong City and I was able to discover that City on its own terms and it's one of my favorite memories in Morocco.

00:16:10 Give me. I have to go somewhere and I'm not going to sign up for that package. That wireless package. How can they do suggest people? I am at the map still map still sold. Could you walk people through like really what should I be doing with their smartphone?

00:16:35 Yeah, well, and I'm his different ways you can do. This one is just turn off your smartphone or leave it at your hotel or your guest house to your hospital and they just don't be depended upon it. But another thing is that shirt, take a nap, get some directions and book your hostile. When you get there, it's time travel. But look, it's time travel back to the year 2004, right? And all that, basically, you're not using ancient magical techniques, you're using the same techniques. People have always used. And so, yeah, I really think that what greater Adventure especially for the the genze millennial people coming up right now. What greater Adventure than to just sort of go old-school and use a paper map. It's a great way to go and it works pretty well and if you get lost, guess what you're lost and you get to discover a new place of the city or the region in a way you hadn't expected and guess what? People, usually live through being lost. People usually live through going to a restaurant. They never heard of before and so

00:17:36 And I'm not saying people have to do it, I think people have gotten really comfortable with smartphones, but sometimes it your smartphone considered be a a filter that makes it feel like you haven't really left home, you know, you're texting your friends back home, you're checking your social media feeds, you're getting Rex Restaurant recommendations without really talking to anybody in the city where you are. So if you're willing to take that leap, sure, leave your smartphone completely at home using paper map and

00:18:03 I can pretty much guarantee you. It'll be more memorable than if you had. Had your smartphone telling you to turn left. Turn right? Eat at this place, you know, go to this attraction. So yeah, I think we're in a great position where we can use a smartphone if we want it. We don't have to. And there's actually a lot of great things that can happen using a paper map or just ask him to do it on the corner. Hey, where's the plaza? Is a festival today. Oh, I didn't had no idea. So I think the old style travel is still there, even as we use these new tools of travel. Yeah. That's, that's amazing. And you said something interesting about, haha, not talking to your friends at home the entire time, you're awake. And burnout is such a huge topic and

00:18:58 What's causing the disease at this point, I'm sure medical doctors will put it in here, but people are burned out and may go away on vacation and they never really disconnects in your travel style. Do you ever feel burned out from riding and everything that you do? And then are you able to?

00:19:31 fully recover when you go away and do you actually disconnect

00:19:38 is it does a good questions? I think sometimes the burn out for me and for a lot of Travelers who are moving, maybe from a place, like the United States to a place like Asia, the burn. Comes early, because you're still serving micromanagement mode. You're still thinking about having your entire day plan because efficiency is so much more important. I'm on the road. Who cares? If you don't go to the place where you plan to go there, just hang out where you are, that, that in a way, one of the gifts of travel is not having to be efficient, not having to be micromanaged and there are forms of travel burnout. But often times, it's people who travel are people who are trying to do too much, and because when we get to travel as bit, if you like it in Tuscany and you can stay there for 2 weeks, you don't have to do it in two days and then go to roam the next week or go to swimming next week you can you can set your own recess schedule as I say and in vagabonding and you can really change your plans entirely because at home plans. Keep you employed. Will they keep you up?

00:20:38 We're on the road. If you discover something that blows your mind, that you never knew about in your research, why not? Just let that enrich your life. Why not just slow down and enjoy yourself a little bit? So, yeah. I like to think that I am not, I'm not burned out by travel, but I think that there's no perfect way to travel that sometimes I am writing does get me down a little bit or I do get a little bit. Tired of too many bus trips or I don't really like this city or that City and so I just have to correct course a little bit. I think one thing about travel is it your all even when you're really good at it and really experienced that you're still improvising, you still finding solutions to problems, you wouldn't have known existed. And that's part of the challenge. But also part of the fun of travel in general, just burnt out from work. And you answered it in the way of burn out from travel. But then, what I realized is your work at your, your vacation is your vocation, as they say,

00:21:38 You are a travel writer or that's one of the things that you do. So I'd love to know because you are in this industry in some way, shape or form. Do you sometimes just say God I don't want to travel, I want to be in my house in Kansas and not think about travel and maybe just I don't know what you do at The Stereotype but I did read. It was 30 Acres so maybe just want to go outside and work the land. It does that happen to you.

00:22:10 Absolutely. I mean I've started have a relationship to my 30 acres in Kansas that I don't have the most places in the world. Even though it's my part of Kansas would never be a tourist destination. What is a part that I have developed a relationship with over the course of many years. And so often times on miss my home, when I'm in a place, it's much sexier, you know, I'll be in Indonesia or Switzerland and all so to miss the Simplicity of my home. I think, you know, even though I'm a travel writer and it is my vocation to be working out in the road, people forget they don't have to bring their work attitude towards travel. I think that separation between work and there's this idea that there's work and there's like sipping a my time on a beach and never the twain shall meet when in fact, often times people when they first start traveling, they're still in work mode and they're trying to be super-efficient and they want to jam ten sightseeing sites in Paris in the day instead of just hanging out and drinking wine and a cafe, right?

00:23:10 If you got a 10 things in Paris, that's great, but for reasons, don't go to Tim's place in Paris for reasons, didn't drink at wine and Cafe all day if they want to. So, I think getting out of that mindset, even if you wanted to travel writer, you can really bring an unhealthy attitude of work towards travel. If you think, oh, well, I'm not really going to experience Bogota Colombia, unless I see everything and it was 10 things on my bucket list. That's what I'm at work or ended attitude. You know, that maybe you'll go to a barbecue place that you've discovered by accident. You make some friends and and you presume you're playing frisbee and and, you know, going to somebody's wedding. So many ways that are outside of the box that work conditions, listen to let it sometimes to give yourself permission as a traveler, not to be as goal oriented as you are during work because sometimes it's not the goals of travel but the accents of travel that make it so much fun. And so memorable.

00:24:10 Fly fly at this point, you know, they don't look right. It's kind of slow food movement, which probably originated in Italy, about the slow travel move, it actually, especially since covid. Where you're not, just bouncing from city-to-city when you hear people are going on a little trip or Roadtrip wherever in the in the United States are really taking their time to doing it slowly. They're staying away from other people Etc.

00:24:42 How long you take off when you go in travel? And how do you move for you? Taking the scenic route at all the time?

00:24:55 Will it really depends? And that's one great thing about vagabonding is that there is no, you know, gardening isn't idealized when it's one year because some people have amazing trips that are 6 weeks or that are 5 years, you know? So years ago, my first bag of Mind trip was twenty-six years ago. I lived in a van if I was given my last if that's going to scratch my travel it should be over with it. That was 8 months and that was great but I did two and a half years around. Asia, I haven't done trips that are that long since I don't think that that I went to Asia last year, for about 4 months, but that was great. You know, that that it wasn't like I was comparing it against my Asia travels of two years that I took what I could and I made it happen. And you know I'm older than I was 20 years ago of course. And so I have more money like I can I can I was in Mozambique a couple of winters ago, I rented a pickup truck. I could have done that as a dirt bag backpack or I would have written chicken buses and chicken buses are interesting in their own way but having a

00:25:55 Four-wheel drive pickup allowed me to see parts of Mozambique, in Southeastern Africa that I wouldn't have seen on a chicken bus. And so one fun thing about developing as a traveler is that you see things in different ways and different perspectives. And that often times being your forties is a traveler will give you perspective. Is that you didn't have in your twenties and you might have more energy and you probably never see so many sunrises that I did when I was in my twenties. Sometimes it's nice to go to bed when I'm in my forties. But yeah, you have, you have different goals. You have different values and

00:26:32 Until you follow that accordingly. I think it's it's good to allow yourself to change the rules of travel. If you're really into partying, when your twenties will you can be in a hiking in your thirties, it doesn't matter. You're not being a hypocrite, you're just following different sides of yourself in different interests and so I'm spending a lot more time in Kansas and I had previously planned on doing this morning. My girlfriend and I were looking at a hiking trails in Kansas. We like hiking in exotic places but why not hiking in our own backyard? So not as many mountains but there are literally hiking trails in Kansas that are, you know, 50 hundred miles long that I'm going to discover for the first time even though they're not that far from where I live. So it's fun to be flexible in how I approach travel as I get older, that's great. That you were living in Kansas. Is that the cost of living is so well. And I've been doing forever.

00:27:32 Well, below their means are now popping up as entire Industries and movements and people lived in bands for a long time before hashtag van was Popular Community Financial Independence. Or there's a bunch of these now where people are are really kind of having a type of hear your thoughts on, affording to travel. Because first of all, I think everybody listening knows that it's not easy to make it as a travel writer and you kind of have to make some decisions. And you certainly did when you were yelling at you just said, riding, chicken, buses, and instead of renting, the four by four. So, I'd love your take on how people can afford to travel,

00:28:32 More often and travel for longer.

00:28:37 Yeah, well there's there's two geographical aspects to this one as you travel to cheaper. Places, one reason that my earliest international travels are in Asia, it's partly connected to my fascination with Asian culture but just as much, if not more the time it was catching. The fact that it was so much cheaper than in a place like Thailand or India. I could travel, you know what, compared to Europe, you know, I get 5 days out of my budget for one day in Europe that probably still holds true that that really if you especially when you are younger traveler. If you started places that cost less than than your big European capitals, nothing against European capitals, I love those places but if you go to India, or Indonesia or Thailand or Egypt, then you're going to be going to a place for your expenses are literally less than in a city like New York or Los Angeles. Another thing, another term that you. I thought you might throw it out but you didn't Arbitrage. If you know Geo Arbitrage.

00:29:37 What? I know that's what it was but that's what my Kansas choice is is that I'm usually gone from Kansas, but it doesn't cost that much to maintain a house here. When I'm here at, if you use, beer is a metric for how much a place cost, you know, you get it. A glass of beer for a dollar at Sand, many bars near where I live. I don't I don't drink beer as much as I used to. I got a picture of beer and Me, and Mar for $0.40. But I'm at episode about this, that there are resources now online. They can help you find, like, there's New York and Los Angeles. Have always sort of been seen as places that are maybe pricing people out San Francisco, but then there's places like Austin in Minneapolis and Portland, that also became popular with will now, their pricing people out too. But the question that a lot of these online services are asking themselves, including the woman that I interviewed for my podcast is, why do you want to go to Oregon? Is it mountains with his great Mountains in Tennessee and guess what

00:30:37 You can live for a third of the price in Tennessee. Are you there because it's always warm in Los Angeles? Well, you know, this part of Coastal Georgia is is warm, you're around and you also have kayaking space. So basically, where can I see in your professional life in such a way, that if it is fairly portable? Why pay out the nose to live in downtown? San Francisco when you can live in a place like Idaho or North Carolina, or Kansas or places that maybe aren't is sexy, but a very fascinating. And so part of the joy of being a traveler, who is based in Kansas, is that I can really apply that Vagabond a mindset to my own home. There's knocking ourselves to go to trap to travel to Kansas but I can discover places that are literally off the beaten path. They're really fun and really rewarding and really surprising in that good old-fashioned traveler way and I can save that money as a traveler. So, so, so just to recap, to Big tools, I've had his one and I don't spend much at home cuz I'm Basin Kansas to

00:31:37 Don't spend a lot on the road cuz I go to cheaper places like India or Thailand that's great at this, especially when you're sexier places. I think you said Indonesia, first of all, if you were 30 right now, do you think he would appreciate, Kansas as much? She would have thrown up to in this Instagram culture or a little bit more. And I bet a lot of people are listening and maybe even scoffing of the, like, I seen the world. How can I go with live in Kansas for Pebble? See you know what it means? What is it about overstimulation in our society today that we need the flashy places and you got to spend a lot of money and all the stuff

00:32:37 Could you take us to Kansas and tell her, tell us what you really enjoy about and how as a traveler you're able to truly appreciate it?

00:32:47 Yeah, well Kansas's, I grew up in Kansas, so it's close to my heart, my family, my parents live, literally the next door, my sister and her family live about a mile away. So it was an easy decision to make in part because the lesson I learned from travel, you know, you go to India or Vietnam or various parts of South America, and families will pool their resources. And so my nephew's sort of grew up with their crazy traveler Uncle. Not very far away when he wasn't traveling and at the same time, they can help me if you don't fix up my house or keep an eye on it when I'm gone. And so,

00:33:21 It's hard to know about. It's hard to imagine myself as a thirty-year-old. I've sort of been under the impression that I'm young people are pretty sophisticated these days. Sure that there's the, the Instagram culture, but also they're not making a generalization. Maybe I'm being a little half, glass full about the younger generation, but they're probably more skeptical than my generation about the appeal of the San Francisco's, in New, York's in Portland. Now because they're not sexy and and wonderful towns. I like all of those places particularly New York, but they know that it's sort of a sucker's game to an extent to make ranch, you know, that you're going to be working an extra 30 hours a week. Just so that you can keep that horrible little apartment, you know, in Park Slope, or wherever you're living. And, and so, I think that the skepticism that is born of certain factors of the younger generation can inform some smart decisions at the same. Write your travel, Instagram are certified, so ideal

00:34:21 They're not even real. You know that it is so beautiful. You don't even see that when you're traveling. That's it is a sort of fiction that is borne out by these platforms and it creates people who perform their lives. And that's, you know, younger people are probably more likely than my generation to perform their lives to sort of have a happy hour version of their own life on Instagram or ticktok or whatever platform. They use. One thing. The travel can give you is this real life and so I don't know if this is part of my argument for Kansas. But one thing about unplugging and just traveling Is that real life even if you don't have a perfect six-pack and the beaches and empty is better than whatever you see on Instagram because it is real life because it's pretty cool and that you can enjoy this place and its three-dimensional instead of two-dimensional and anything about, you know, unlike a place, like Tennessee, doesn't have mountains in like a place, like Georgie doesn't have his cold in the winter and it's not warm, but it's super cheap and super friendly as good. Neighbors, and I'm not hear you.

00:35:21 Around. Except during a pandemic. I'm not here you around, you know, what is it is a place where I can go, you know, there's not, it's a rural area. I don't have much to steal and it was, and I didn't nobody really thinks to, to break into a house in the middle of nowhere. It's just, it's, it's about that Simplicity and it's about, I'm going to stay in a place that you should have have to work hard to find this most interesting aspects, but it gives me Freedom. It, frees me up to live a lifestyle for months. Last year, I was in Indonesia and Georgia and Us in Sri Lanka, right? And so basically, it doesn't

00:35:59 It doesn't make me beholden to his place, twelve months a year and in fact, more so than a more expensive city I can live here at halftime and I can still consider it home, but I'm also in Mozambique. I'm also in the movie or Argentina and it just gives me more options. And and part of that is not being rich but about using what money, I have to make what field to me, more strategic decisions about where to live and where to travel to lend. A hand might actually title of the episode, something to do with performing your life, which is really, it's really interesting innocent because all the people who are performing their real-life of course, but they're also trying to sell something so that they can continue to have this lifestyle and be able to travel. And you just hope that people are doing, it is what I would say.

00:37:00 Jeff Schutte. I haven't had something else that I wanted to to say at her. Ask you on that but no just just super interesting when when you start to talk about being in a place that's so simple and you kind of wonder what is there to do, right? Like I get stipend. So stir crazy here in I'm in Austin and I'm actually like she is this place is kind of it's gotten expensive and a little bit that's what I was going to mention his, you said gen Z, it will be interesting to see what they do. They are the ones starting these movements of employee who in San Francisco. I realized that I'd be spending still be spending three-quarters of my paycheck on right side.

00:38:00 Started to live in a van in the parking lot and you see the stories like baseball players, embracing living in an RV and I hope I have so many people contact me in a lot of good friends from college and people who went to LA and San Francisco and New York to have big jobs and be all stressed out. But numerous people say I just want to chop wood for a while. I just go into the woods and do nothing in these people. Also travel quite a bit, have their, their Fair, the fair time of, you know, stimulate overstimulation in and all that. But when you're looking for stuff to do around town or around campus, you said you going to check out some hiking trails. I think you said you had a relationship with the area or when you need something to do, you just

00:39:00 Okay, I'm going to go travel or are you like now I'm just going to hang out and do nothing because there's a lot of value in that too.

00:39:08 Yeah. Well and and sometimes doing nothing is just so doing something counterintuitive. If you do I can I can I have 30 Acres so I can go on a very quiet, walking mile and in a way it's nothing but it's also being very receptive in the way of a traveler to my own immediate environment and and that's a good thing to do. I also do a ton of reading while I'm here and actually I have been reading Kindle, a lot more now because I take a lot of notes and you can use the Highlight function but sometimes doing nothing. I should read. When I travel a lot to

00:39:38 Is yeah, just sort of being more contemplative. That I mean, there's two things, there's two ways of sort of getting in tune, with an older way of being. One is walking, you know, my running sometimes too but walking just you should have walking in a slow deliberate way. Walking allows you to have different thought patterns and if you're just sitting at home or if you're looking at your device and then reading reading to Ideal an in an unconnected way, we are not distracted with your really conversing with men of other centuries. In a certain way you're reading your your reading a novel in your stead of getting into the consciousness of those characters are very empathetic way or you're reading a book about history or travel and you're going to different

00:40:20 The eras of history or in different parts of the world and it's an imaginative act. And so, that's one big thing is that often when I'm at home, I have a much simpler life that involves I'm more month like in a certain sense. I am given over to study and and simple exercise and simpler social relationships are probably meet. You were people, while I'm here, going out and find a new restaurant, I found a great drive drive drive in about an hour from here. I went and saw ET there about a month ago and it was so awesome, and it's sort of became its own adventure, was just sort of an accidental adventure. And so I think it's important not to set limits and not to get into the fomo thing that you're missing out on something I have is some places are quotes better than others. When in fact what there is to find wherever you are you may as well just find ways to fall in love with ever. You are because if you're worried than the other place might be better than you really selling.

00:41:20 Call life short, you know, cuz eventually you'll be dead, right? And then, if you spend half your life, wearing the, you wishing you were someplace else and that's a waste of your life. So one part of the vagabonding ethic is really find ways to get to fall in love with the place, you are. Even if it means just being quiet and going for a walk and trying to see this place in a new way. I start to understand long-term travel I hate to ask because then you have the time, and again, we see a million things in 7 days, but that doesn't seem to be what you're talkin about whatsoever.

00:42:09 I wanted to go to ask you how you select places to go and see over tourism is such a huge, top it. And we try to course on this podcast, encourage people to travel as sustainably as possible, but if you're just looking up with the number one place on TripAdvisor in the world, to go, to go is scrolling emypeople. I should stop talking on Instagram culture so much but people literally will just look for places that look pretty. And I just go to them, which is interesting in its own right, but there are people who just try like Instagram says they're at their guide book as well. I'm sure that would be helpful if there if they're doing it for a few select places to go.

00:43:05 It is different every time and I touch on this a little bit in the book bag of bonding in that in a way. It doesn't matter what your motivation for going to places. You know maybe you love rugby right and then they have great rugby sevens in Fiji and so you can go to Fiji and going to check out the rugby culture there. Well, you'll find some pretty awesome stuff in. Fiji that has nothing to do with rugby. That is going to blow your mind unami, beautiful, beautiful, beaches. You going to meet really cool people and and suddenly, it doesn't matter what brings you there. What matters is what happens when you when you show up there. Like I went to Sumatra last year because when I get my first travel through Asia, I missed Indonesia. I wanted to go to Indonesia but I love Thailand and Laos and Cambodia so much. They never got Danisha Wells, 20 years later, I went there and my God, it was just, it was just amazing. It was super inexpensive. I spent the entire month on the island of Sumatra and not even on the entire island of Sumatra. Like I was on about a third of Sumatra and every day was a mine.

00:44:05 Calling me. I'm satisfying day. And so that was a trip that was connected to my past. I'm traffic in previous years at a cabin in in Argentina. And so that was a good pretext. My brother-in-law had a, he's a scientist yet up, research Fellowship to Uruguay. So I said, well, I'll, I'll travel this winter in South America, so I think that some Travellers can overthink this. When in fact, it doesn't matter, you can go to some place for the dumbest. Most superficial reason in the world, you go to New Zealand, cuz you like Lord of the Rings, you can go to Dubrovnik cuz you like Game of Thrones and when you show up you'll you'll find 10 things that have nothing to do with Lord of the Rings are Game of Thrones and they're just going to completely make you happy that you went there. So I would say top 10 lists are the worst reasons to go to a place. And if you don't, if you do, go to

00:44:59 The number one TripAdvisor place. If you're in Venice and it's full of crowds, what is Italy's a big country? You don't have to stay in Venice. You can actually go to Two Towns over and probably it's more authentically. Italian anyway, so if you give yourself permission to change your plans, then it doesn't matter what your plans are because you're, you're always smarter after you started traveling, then when you planned your travels, that you're trying your travels, you this guy in the underwear in Austin Arkansas. You know, making plans, suddenly you're on the road, you're meeting people. They're excited about having gone places. You're talking to local people, and if you don't give yourself permission to change your plans when you started selling yourself short. So, that's a good travel tool to have is a traveler's, the ability to change your mind and try something different before we wrap up.

00:45:49 Sure sounds good. Alright, rock you didn't, you said you didn't drink too much beer these days but if you could go to one tomorrow, where would it be?

00:46:04 Oh man. That's that's a good question. It's it's funny. The first thing that popped in my head was this bar called mcglinchey's in Philadelphia, write a really great time in 1994. When I was living in the van, I went there a few years ago, I was like one of the only bars left in Philadelphia where you can still smoke out of a grandfathered in the smoking-room. Actually, that doesn't interest me at all. So so a better answer is probably a Korean soju tent because when I was living in Korea Korea, is it is a fantastic drinking culture, drink drinking a social lubricant. That makes meetings were an after the bars closer. These orange Soju tents, we can get a little bit of snack and a little bit of Soju which is sort of the Korean vodka and I just had so many nice high-spirited times in the middle of the night in Korea. And that's a place I'd go back to you in an instant. If some okay if you were going to take six months, a good chunk of time. But you just wanted to stay in one cup.

00:47:05 And travel around. Where would it be?

00:47:09 Well, this is going to sound lame, but United States, it's funny. I've been all over the world. United States is where I took my first vagabonding trip and I still rank. It really high in the American West by itself. Could keep you busy for six months and never and never make you feel like you've done the same thing twice.

00:47:31 There's there's so many places but if I was to do it maybe like a place, like South Africa, or China, like a big country in a place that I've been, but not really like, I'm under traveled in China and South Africa, even France and and places like Germany or Italy.

00:47:49 I realize I'm waffling on this question so my final answer Alex is as a Jeopardy reference is Italy. I think, I think I would spend the six months in Italy. I was supposed to be there right now, it was supposed to go there this summer covid, cancel those plans. I've been to Italy before, but never properly. So I've never really spent time in Tuscany. I've never really spent time in Rome or Naples or Sicily. I think it'll do my place. That's my final answer. Say, thank you for that, and I'm thinking of the movie rating, mr. Ripley, you see this? We're pretty pretty for sure. I'm picturing you going over there and getting mr. Ripley's, son, back from a month on the beach and wherever he was, I don't know the Amalfi Coast.

00:48:38 That was a beautiful. Yeah, the sights of that movie were amazing for me to pick up the pace you could elaborate us as long as you want. I love that. You said United States. It's hot right now. Lot of people can't travel abroad or no one will accept us. If we have a u.s. passport amongst other reasons. What's your favorite US National Park?

00:49:06 I'm very fond of Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. And I've been to so many national parks and they're all so great. But Olympic National Park is a place, it really, really blew my mind when I was 18 years old. I went I was thinking about going to college in Oregon. I went out there and there's Olympic National Park has some parts on the coast so you can actually find wilderness beaches that are very isolated and full of giant logs and beautiful sunsets. And you can also go Inland and climb mountains inside Olympic National Park in find Clover. That is as big as your hand, like, it's a temperate rain forest and there's more most rainforest is on the tropics, but this has so much rain and it's so Lush. And it was like going other planet. It was like being in a Star Wars movie. And keep in mind, this is influenced by my experiences when I was 18 but it remains really, I would say my favorite National Park in United States and loving National Park in Washington State.

00:50:06 You had one piece of travel gear that you could not travel without.

00:50:14 Oh, that's a good question. I went around the world with no luggage almost exactly 10 years ago. I went around the world with nothing but just the things in my pockets and so why I've learned that you don't really need any you know one thing to be to have a great time, Mike shoes. Good shoes that those are super important and and really I'm not a fan of smartphones. I think they can really get in the way but if you were to bring one thing I think bringing a smartphone gives you more options than those two extra sets of clothes. You know, that you can take a small backpack but with the smartphone you can put books on at, you can you can check the weather on it, you can text your mom, you can make some plans. If you can strike a balance between using it, constructively and not using it at all. The smartphone is such a great tool for travel at remind myself. Sometimes kids again, that get off my lawn part of myself, wants to tell people not to use the smartphone.

00:51:14 Fact, the smartphone give you so many options that you don't really need a pack much else, besides your toothbrush and your extra underwear really does. I'm thinking about what I went away to Europe in college and I didn't bring my cell phone because it was no use. I just left it at home. I still grew up in some type of cell phone error because I didn't know my mother's phone number for stuff, like, how do I have on her cell phone. So I had so many interesting answers that my brain got going so much. I thought it was like, I couldn't figure out what to ask next door, which way to go to bring things, but this is, this is awesome. Of course, he had again, you have to book bag of bonding an uncommon guide for the art of long-term World Travel. And then your second book in Revelations from

00:52:14 Modern travel writer. If you have any other books or would you like to rent another one?

00:52:20 At what have I booked that came out last year called souvenir, which is exactly about that. It's about the souvenir ritual, The Travelers go through, and I have some other books. It's too soon to see what they're going to be at. I almost have about 10 bucks. I want to ride and then, then fate, eventually Narrows that down there. My podcast, DV8, which is a fun creative Outlet, especially during the pandemic, and that is helping me scratch my curiosity, which is not my travel. That's right now. So that's another. Another fun thing that I've been doing. Yeah, that's pretty straightforward. I just checked that URL and anything you wanted to leave the readers and listeners with

00:53:05 No, just did encourage everybody to travel. It's not as hard or as expensive as dangerous as you think, and the first step starts when you decide you're going to do it, even if it means two or three years, when the pandemic is long gone. So, good luck on the road, everyone podcast listeners, did you enjoy that episode? If so, I would love for you to check out Under30Experiences blog and The Ultimate Guide to solo travel, this is an 8000 word article that I have pain. We call it a prequel to my book. The millennial travel guide book at skate Moore, spend less and make travel a priority in your life, but it tells you everything that you need to know not in as much depth as the 55000 word book, but eight thousand words is no joke and everything from how to find free places to stay.

00:54:05 Cheap flights best places in the world to travel communities to get involved with. I really spent a lot of time on this and I think you're going to love it. So check out 130 blog and I feel like that you'll probably be interested in my book. Millennial travel guide book which you can find on millennial travel guide,

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Experiences and Author of The Millennial Travel Guidebook: Escape More, Spend Less, & Make Travel a Priority in Your Life. He is host of the Live Different Podcast, Millennial Travel Podcast, and formerly Co-founder of He is committed to helping people live more adventurous lives.


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